Fight to get grandmother back to St Albans

Pamela Luther-Smith

Pamela Luther-Smith - Credit: Archant

A desperate family are leaving no stone unturned in their battle with the district council to get their 90-year-old housebound grandmother back to St Albans.

Pamela Luther-Smith’s relatives have launched a social media campaign to drum up support for her cause after she was told by the council that despite being on the housing waiting list for 16 months, it could take four years before she is allocated assisted-living accommodation.

The former St Albans resident retired to Dorset with her late husband but she now lives alone, and since having a nasty fall and breaking her pelvis and pubic bone cannot walk without a frame.

Her daughter and granddaughter, who live in St Albans, have to drive a six-hour round-trip to visit her every week, and fear if she is not relocated soon it could be too late.

Granddaughter Diane Walsh, of Batchwood, said: “She can’t get out so she can’t get her shopping and she is withdrawn from the community. She is so worried it [having a fall] is going to happen again.

“If she was in St Albans she would have her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and we would be able to go there and take her out into the community so she can socialise with others, help her with her household chores and take her to do her shopping.”

The 32-year-old added: “She is desperate to come back to St Albans. It is heartbreaking to leave her there.”

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Diane, who set up the ‘Pamela needs help’ campaign, has appealed to the council twice to get her grandmother moved up the priority list on medical grounds as she suffers from clinical depression.

But on both occasions her application was rejected after she was told depression was a ‘social’ not a medical problem.

She said: “They [the council] are not really with it. Everything I have produced to them they have disregarded.

“How can this be right? How can elderly people be treated like this? They are just seen as a problem.”

Diane also feels that there is not enough sheltered housing for the elderly in the district and plans to start an online petition calling for more facilities to be built.

Karen Dragovic, head of housing at the council, said: “Mrs Luther-Smith is currently living in Dorset. We have received an application for housing for her in St Albans district and we are looking into this. However, we have a limited supply of available accommodation in the district.

“In the middle of December there were 676 people waiting to be housed in one-bedroom homes. As and when homes become available they are advertised through our Choice-Based Lettings scheme.

“Anyone registered on our housing list can apply for an advertised home. Advertised properties will be offered to those applicants who are considered most in need.”